Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dear Gerry Harvey

Dear Gerry Harvey

It's really quite simple.

During the Keating era, and then at length through the pain of the Howard governments, we came to accept that the Australian manufacturing industry was going to be restructured. That with our rates of pay, we really weren't competitive with China, Taiwan, Thailand, and other countries where people are prepared to work a 12 hour day for two cups of rice and a handful of bean shoots.

We didn't like it, but we have learned to live with it.

We fell back on mining, and on agri-business. The latter is a bit of a bummer, by the way. Big corporate farms that sell to bigger processing corporations which deal with truly enormous distribution firms leave no room for the family-owned farms that are indelibly part of the Australian cultural image. And frankly, mining has always been a hard, hard business for the people who actually dig stuff up and process it.

But we did it. And we accepted it. We accepted it because we were told again and again and again that we were part of a global market, that we had to reduce protectionism, that we had to compete with other producers around the world.

Of course, the other side of that painful coin is the pay-off: the reasonably priced merchandise sourced from all those countries around the world which have a surplus of skilled labor. Cheap-ass televisions and DVDs and phones and computers from China, and Thailand, and Taiwan and so forth. That's the quid pro quo. That's the payback. As consumers, we get access to those goodies because we accepted the pain, and allowed our manufacturing industries to outsource the living hell out of everyone and everything.

So... near as I can tell, Gerry, you and your rich-ass corporate vendor buddies are trying to say something like: "Dear me, no. Of course you can't buy things cheaply! That would undercut our traditional Australin retail model, and deny me and my fat-bastard friends our traditional corporate retail profits!"

Please do feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, Gerry. But from what I can see, a whole lot of people I know and value had to change their lives drastically so this country could 'compete' in the 'global marketplace'. And the 'reward' for that lies, in theory, in our capacity to access cheaply made and moderately priced goods from this selfsame 'global marketplace'.

Only you want us to suck it up, keep paying you and your rich-prick buddies a superpremium because... uhh... because... uhh... well, just because you deserve it!

You know what, Gerry? I live out in the country. If I stick to local vendors, I can't get interesting DVDs. Or interesting music. Or interesting books. If I want to buy furniture or electrical shit from your nearest store, I've got over an hour's driving to do first. And then, of course, I have to pay your people a delivery fee to ship it here.

Even then, you never carry the things I want. Computer with Linux pre-installed? From Harvey Norman? You're joking, right? The staff at HN can't even spell Linux, because they're NOT ALLOWED.

So, to sum up: you want me to go on living out here in the boonies, contributing materially to the support and ongoing welfare of this nation in the various ways that I do. You want me to live in this town where globalisation has killed the vegetable processing plant and both goddam sawmills. You want me to watch people pack up and leave homes their families have held for generations because the global market forces have taken their jobs away... but at the same time, you expect me to keep paying anywhere up to five times the going market value for the kind of stuff that you sell -- and you expect me to purchase only the limited range of crap that you have for sale?

(And meanwhile, you don't give to charities because they only encourage the no-hopers, right? Yeah, Gerry, I read that one too.)

I have some words for you, Gerry Harvey. They're not nice ones at all, and I'll reserve them for now. But if you and I should ever encounter one another in person, I promise to deliver those words to you in clear and painstaking detail.

Count on it, you miserable, tight-fisted, un-Australian piece of crap.

I Shot The Sherriff... But I Will Not Shoot The Deputy

It wasn't really the sherriff. It was the goddam rooster.

You remember quite some time ago, when Natalie thought it would be a good idea for the kids to get some eggs to hatch? Yeah? The fuss? The eggs that got roasted by a close encounter with a heat-light? The late-night run to someone else's house (carried out, naturally, by yours truly) to grab three more eggs just when they were hatching? The horrible 24 hour hatching process, kids not sleeping, stupid chicks slow emerging, wet, fugly little buggers?

Yeah. And of course, they were all goddam silky bantams, weren't they?

There were two hens and a rooster. One hen croaked for reasons which may involve over-loving from the Mau-Mau. Possibly. The other has been motoring along just fine. But the rooster decided he should take over rooster duties, and round up the Three Fat Ladies - our black Australorp laying hens.

Well, that was okay. I mean, I could put up with the little bastard crowing. He was well away from the house, down in the chook pen. That was all right.

Except Natalie thinks 'free-range' really truly means 'free-range'. So every now and again, she decides that our spacious, well-grassed, shaded chook pen with its long-term water supply and the feeding stations and all that -- she decides they need to 'really get out and scratch around'.



So they get out. They wander around. Natalie forgets to put them back in. And for about a week, they lurk around the place, scratching, shitting on the deck, etc. Eventually they stop going back to the nesting box to lay, and Natalie decides that yes, finally, we need to round them up.

The only real problem here - aside from the chookshit on the deck - was the stroppy, nasty little bantam rooster. Not only did he take to crowing under the bedroom window at dawn (about 0350 here in temperate Tas) but he decided to have a go at the kids when he could.

Roosters are nasty. Even Jake was frightened of him. And he kept going for faces and eyes.

Eventually, one day while Natalie was away -- but with her permission, I shall add; Mr Rooster having been a very bad boy that day and the Mau-Mau bleeding from an ugly scratch -- I arranged for an accident to befall the rooster. A twenty-two calibre accident.

Too bad. So sad. Goodbye, you vicious little shit.

That leaves only the Three Fat Ladies and the animated mop-head, the last of the silkies, trundling sadly along in their wake.

But damn me if one of the Three Fat Ladies hasn't started trying to crow. Dead serious here, folks. It's not a very good sort of crow, but it is unmistakeable. Not a cluck. Not even a squawk, but a sad, wheezy, tragic little crow, like a rooster with a five year three-pack-a-day habit.

Most pathetic thing I've ever seen.

Natalie says the thing has some kind of gender issues. I don't give a shit. She doesn't go for the kids' faces, and she still lays an egg a day.

Now, all I have to do is round 'em up and get them back in the pen again...